The Citizen Sense Research Group’s Tool for Using Plants to Reduce Air Pollution

The Citizen Sense Research Group based at Goldsmiths, University of London have developed the Phytosensor tool kit with the aim of reducing air pollution by utilising plants and other vegetation that are effective at taking up pollutants.  

According to Citizen Sense, while reducing emissions at the source is the best way to address air pollution, plants can play an important role in mitigating air pollution. Plants are organisms that are continually sensing and changing our environments. Some plants are especially effective at taking up pollutants, whether by absorbing gaseous pollutants through their stomata, drawing in heavy metals through their roots, or channelling and depositing particulates in their leaves.

The toolkit  developed provides resources for learning how to incorporate an air quality garden. This methodology was developed first by establishing a monitoring network throughout South East London. From late October 2016 to September 2017, residents, workers and volunteers hosted Dustbox devices and collected air quality data. The Dustbox technology was developed by Citizen Sense and is a digital real-time air-quality monitoring device. You can view the logbook for the Dustbox 1.0 used to monitor air quality in South East London at: The logbook includes instructions for monitoring, as well as resources for undertaking citizen air quality monitoring. With the data they collected using the Dustbox technology, they assembled data stories to communicate the findings from the citizen data. The citizen data showed that well planted areas can contribute to lower particulate levels.

For further information on the project and the toolkit, please download and open the following PDF: Phytosensor project and toolkit information PDF.